New Delhi residents suffocate, trapped by extreme pollution episode

The horizon is completely blocked, it is hardly if one distinguishes the emblematic buildings of the capital, lost in the smog. The air is unbreathable, attacks the eyes, lungs and throat, causing throbbing headaches. “My eyes are burning and when I gargle with hot salt water as advised by my doctor to clean my throat, I spit black”, explains a taxi driver, who spends a good part of his day outdoors.

New Delhi and neighboring cities, with around 30 million inhabitants, have been suffocating since November 5 in a cocktail of pollutants made up of fine particles, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and ozone. The Indian metropolis recorded on November 11 and 12 its worst air quality index of the season – 471 on a measurement scale of 500. The situation is so serious that justice is considering a mandatory two-day confinement of the season. population of the region. Such a measure had never been mentioned before.

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Despite the health emergency, neither the federal government nor the regional government reacted. Seized by a student from the capital, the Supreme Court, during a hearing Saturday, November 13, very severely condemned the apathy of the leaders and demanded immediate measures such as the containment of the population or the stopping of motor traffic. “Even inside the houses, we are forced to wear masks. The situation is extremely serious (…) Take immediate and urgent action. Impose a two-day lockdown, if necessary. How will people be able to live otherwise? “, a magistrate of the highest jurisdiction in the country was carried away.

The inaction of the authorities is all the more culpable since the crisis was foreseeable: it has been the case every autumn for nearly ten years. All the elements combine to suffocate the capital: the agricultural burns that begin in the fall in the neighboring regions, the combustion of waste, the great Hindu festival Diwali – with its millions of candles and firecrackers and the intense car traffic that ‘it generates. Finally, the climatic conditions, the cold of the night and the absence of wind which trap the pollutants on the ground.

Closure of schools

According to NASA satellite images, which made it possible to count the fires in the states of Punjab and Haryana, between 1is and on November 13, the cumulative number of fires in the fields stood at 57,263, a record since 2012. The authorities are unable to regulate this prohibited practice of getting rid of residues from the rice harvest. stubble, by burning them, to be able to sow more quickly. Mechanization aid has been put in place, but it has fueled corruption. A biodegradable product has been developed, but the farmers consider the process too slow.

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New Delhi residents suffocate, trapped by extreme pollution episode

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